Wednesday afternoon, under the order of a Valdosta Superior Court judge, the Lowndes County sheriff's office released hundreds of clips of surveillance video to the Johnson's attorneys and members of the media.
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WXIA) -- Wednesday afternoon, under the order of a Valdosta Superior Court judge, the Lowndes County sheriff's office released hundreds of clips of surveillance video to the Johnson's attorneys and members of the media.
But the new video does not provide any obvious clues as to how Johnson's body got into a rolled up gym mat 10 months ago. In fact, the video may have only added to the confusion of this story. If that's possible.
Of the nearly 40 cameras in and around the old gym at Lowndes High School, only one appears to show the rolled up mats in the corner of the gym -- the area where Johnson's body was found. The images appear blurry (a sheriff's investigator explains that particular camera was hit with a ball) and the angle doesn't show the tops of the mats.
According to Lt. Stryde Jones with the Lowndes County sheriff's office, because some of the cameras are motion activated, they didn't capture Johnson entering the mat because he didn't come within range of the motion sensors.
On the morning of January 11, Johnson's body was discovered by students at Lowndes High School, rolled inside of a gym mat. After a nearly four-month investigation, the sheriff's office declared his cause of death accidental suffocation and closed the case.
His parents never bought it.
For months, Jackie and Kenneth Johnson have placed their hope in the release of this surveillance video, hoping it would finally help answer some of the questions surrounding their son's death.
They protested on the streets of Valdosta. They went to court. Sat down with reporters for interview after interview, all the while asking the public to join their fight.
Eventually, it worked: last week, a judge ordered the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office to release the video. That process itself was not a simple one: there was the matter of going through the files, figuring out how to copy hours and hours of video. IT specialists got involved. Repeated media calls to the county's attorney yielded the same response: we're working on it.
Meanwhile, the questions were mounting: would the video show a smoking gun? Would it show Johnson climbing into the mat to retrieve his shoes as the sheriff's investigation concluded? Or would it show something else? A smoking gun, something to indicate someone else played a role in Johnson's death?
Wednesday afternoon, 11Alive spent hours combing through 266GB of surveillance footage, taken from the cameras in and around the old gym. None of the video clips have a time or date stamp. Lt. Jones said the original video on the school's server was time stamped, but not the copy taken by the sheriff's office.
One previously released clip shows Johnson walking down a hallway into the gym. Another angle shows him walking past the basketball court. Yet another clip shows the chaotic moments when Johnson's body was discovered.
Jim Elliott, attorney for Lowndes County, said the video is a complete, unaltered copy of video taken from the school servers.
C.B. King, an attorney for the Johnsons, said the family is "suspicious" of the video and will have their own experts look through the footage.